Magazine article Marketing

Small Team, Global Remit

Magazine article Marketing

Small Team, Global Remit

Article excerpt

Is the fashion for smaller, 'global' marketing teams simply a ruse to enable cuts, asks Suzy Bashford.

When the word 'restructuring' is used in a business context, it is often a euphemism for job cuts. So news that Burger King and Premier Foods are reshuffling their marketing operations, while the government is considering a centralised team, could sound a warning bell for the industry (Marketing, 23 February).

Burger King's announcement was the most startling - it is more than halving its UK marketing headcount from 10 to just four. In comparison, its rival McDonald's has between 20 and 30 marketers in the UK.

According to Burger King, such axe-wielding will help the UK team achieve 'stronger alignment with global marketing and communications' In other words, UK-specific remits have been cut, and those responsibilities subsumed by the company's EMEA team.

Of course, the fashion in marketing department structures is cyclical, depending on the whims of chief marketers as well as economic imperatives. The issue for the industry is whether it has entered a new phase of brands downsizing domestic marketing operations.

Not reduction

Helen Duce, UK senior partner at consultancy Effective Brands, says Burger King's behaviour does not reflect that of the industry as a whole.

'A lot of companies are coming to us and saying they need to reorganise their marketing, but the majority of restructures are not about downsizing,' she explains.

'Mainly it's about reorganising for greater efficiency and effectiveness. In about 80% of cases, they want to reshape where marketing roles sit and add clarity. In fact, in our experience, marketing often appears to be distanced from the cuts that are happening across the rest of a company,' adds Duce.

While Burger King is shifting its focus to a global approach, Premier Foods, which operates predominantly in the UK, has just created a group marketing division, with Jon Goldstone as its director.

His 20-strong team now has an overview of all Premier brands, and sets the strategy for brand directors in the individual business units to execute. Far from downsizing, Goldstone says the rejig is testament to the company's commitment to the discipline and its recognition of marketing's increasing importance.

'This signals a much more strategic approach to marketing where we are better able to identify brands with the best potential for growth and can allocate resources,' says Goldstone. …

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